Monday, October 31, 2011

A stroll down that street known as Halloween Memory Lane

I had my folks over to celebrate Phil's birthday (Happy Birthday, Phil!), and because Halloween was nigh upon us, I asked what they did for the holiday when they were kids. My mom was vague. "Oh, you know," was pretty much all she said. But my dad told us they used to roam around the Orem bench, knocking over outhouses.

I was intrigued because knocking over outhouses seems like a mythic American activity, something Mark Twain created when he wrote about Huck and Tom. But apparently not. Also, I was a little surprised to learn that there were still outhouses to knock over in Orem in the 30's. Sometime between then and when I was born, people got busy and called the plumber, because I don't remember outhouses in Orem.

"Were you dressed up?" I asked.

The man looked at me like I was an idiot. "No. We just knocked over outhouses."

Meanwhile, I have a Halloween memory of my own in re to him. When we'd come home from trick-or-treating, he checked our bags to "make sure everything was okay." Then he'd steal all our Tootsie Rolls.

Feel free to post a few memories of your own. And have a spook-tacular day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Just in time for Halloween!

And meanwhile I promise to blog more faithfully this week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Re-launch for CHARLOTTE'S ROSE

Hey, guys, first thanks for your feedback about NaNoWriMo. I very much appreciate it. Not quite sure what I'm gonna do. I did remember that in the middle of the month, I will be blissfully visiting a new granddaughter in North Carolina, so that may influence my decision this year.

(MEMO TO JULIE AND DYLAN: hurry up and have that baby, okay?)

Meanwhile, I'd love to see you at the launch for CHARLOTTE'S ROSE if you're in the area--TKE (15h East and 15th South) on Saturday November 5 at 2:00.

Should be fun. The women at TKE know how to make a party happen!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just curious

Have any of you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? What was your experience?

I'm seriously thinking of doing it this year, mostly so I won't feel like this year has been a writing wasteland. I think this is the first year in a long, long, LONG time that I haven't completed anything--the first draft of a novel or even a picture book. I was always getting started. Like a car with a failing battery. A little noise. A little energy. And then . . . nothing.

Maybe NaNoWriMo will help me salvage what has been a discouraging year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another Saturday, another column

Can't believe I've been writing Salt Lake Tribune columns for almost a year now!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Because I always complain about the fall and winter months

. . . I just want to say what an astonishingly beautiful day it has been today. Light like honey everywhere. Kathy, Sally and I walked down City Creek Canyon and marveled at the layers of color and texture and the way sun crowned the hills all around us.

A golden day, people. One for the journal.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Football, the long view, aging, and life

So a few yeas ago, my dad was given access to a loge at the stadium, which means after decades of sitting outside, we now watch games from the relative comfort of a crow's nest. And let me tell you, people, it's interesting to watch football from that perspective. When you're sitting in the clouds, you can watch everything unfold, and mostly--even when plays break up and coverages are blown--you're still struck by the precision and the plan of it all.

Last week in Oregon we sat on a second row bleacher where you mostly have a view of a) the guy's head in front of you, b) the cheerleaders, and c) an occasional shot of players' beefy butts and thighs. What strikes you from the second row is how chaotic it all looks. No precision. Just scrambling and grunting and fumbling.

And for some reason this morning, I thought how much aging is like sitting in a loge. You have this broader view about the stuff that's happened. You've seen a lot and you've detached a little, and therefore you can spot patterns, right? On the other hand, when you're in the middle of a thing--a financial crisis, a problem with a child, whatever--it's a lot like sitting on the second row. It all feels like chaos.

I have no idea why I wrote all that just now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And perhaps I should mention

. . . the name of the novel is HOW TO SAVE A LIFE.

Launch Party Thursday night at TKE (7:00).

Hooray for Sara Zarr!

Today is the Official Launch Date for Sara's awesome new young adult novel. I read the ARC of this book a few months ago. It totally blew me away. Loved the story, loved the characters, loved the gorgeous assured writing.

Let's hear it for Sara.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Charlotte's Rose

I came home from Eugene to discover my contractual copies of CHARLOTTE'S ROSE awaiting me. So, kids, the book will be on shelves soon! And may I say I love the new cover. When Geoff gets back from Eugene, I'll make him throw a graphic up, so you can see what it looks like.

I am truly grateful to the University of Utah Press and Margaret Neville at TKE for making this happen. It's nice to have a book come back, not unlike Lazarus from the tomb.

Meanwhile I think I should mention that Randi gave me a bag of chocolate covered potato chips while we were in Oregon and that they're actually pretty good. It's the whole salt-tastes-surprisingly-good-with-chocolate thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh, Eugene

Eugene is the ultimate contrarian, anti-establishment, stick-it-to-the-man city in the country. Case in point. It's the only town I've visited where the dogs ignore you while the cats run up to you and say PET ME PET ME PET ME PET and also HI!!!!

Had a nice run and met several lovely cats this morning. Off to Corvallis soon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hello from Eugene!

I'm here to see the fabulous granddaughter and also to watch the game in Corvallis where BYU will hopefully not suck.

I also want to mention that today is the 103rd anniversary of the last time the Cubs won the World Series. Like Alec's computer decal says: "Anyone can have an off-century."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bulb planting considered

So after the rain earlier this week, I got busy and planted some bulbs (tulip, crocus, grape hyacinth) and the WHOLE TIME I planted I thought to myself, "These won't bloom. How can they possibly bloom? They're so little and you plant them so deep and those shoots have to work REALLY hard to push through the ground, which is like concrete and yeah. These won't bloom."

This is the way I think about things a lot. I used to be optimistic, but now I'm always waiting for things to go south. BECAUSE THEY DO. Or not. But I always think they will. I don't have much faith, as it turns out. I am a surprisingly faith-less human being.

And yet every spring my garden is full of glistening tulips.

Awesome, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In the words of Pappy O'Daniel


Anyway. The character-building exercise at Snow Springs Elementary in Lehi yesterday went very well. Jody Kyburz and her fellow teachers did an awesome job of preparing the students (who were wonderfully attentive and eager to participate) for an author visit, and consequently, we all got something out of it. I can't remember a better school visit.

Actually, maybe I'll address the topic of school visits today, although I started out thinking about something else, morally fiberally speaking. So here goes.

When I first started making school visits, I didn't demand much because I didn't want to look like a Raging Egomaniac (egomaniac--my grandma used to use that word!) Writer Diva Person. I also felt like it was wrong at some level to take money from a public school. So I was all whatever is fine. Don't pay me. Don't read my books. I'll just show up, do my thing, and turn the lights out for you afterwards.

Then one day the luminous Ivy Ruckman (wonderful Utah writer who paved the way for many other Utah writers) called and said, "Listen, doll. If you charge for your visit, you'll be amazed at how much BETTER the whole thing will be for everybody. Suddenly they'll have a slide projector that works and suddenly the students will have been prepped and suddenly everyone is much more engaged because AN AUTHOR IS VISITING!"

Well. I didn't believe Ivy. I was committed to being a "good person"--the kind who does everything for free. Until one day I showed up to do an event at a junior high school where the teacher wasn't even there. She'd just left me directions in the main office and oh btw would I take roll and could I stay a couple more periods? In other words, I was an unpaid substitute teacher for kids who had no idea who I was and who didn't care.

And so I started to make a few simple demands after that. 1) ask teachers to read or make my books familiar to students, 2) ask teachers to publicize the visit, and 3) ask for a fee, even if it's pretty nominal.

The take-away here? I don't like to fuss much. But it turns out that sometimes people want to fuss. Sometimes people need to fuss. And sometimes all that fussing can be nourishing for all involved.

Who knew?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Off to . . .

an elementary school in Lehi (yay! Snow Springs!) to talk about my writing process. I think we'll do a character-building exercise. Okay, now that I look at that, I realize it sounds like I'm going out there to help those kids with their characters. You know. Whip 'em into shape. Fill 'em full of moral fiber and so forth.

That's not what I meant. Obviously. Can't remember the last time anyone wanted me to fill 'em full of moral fiber.

However, when I return, I may post the (other) character-building exercise here. It's kind of fun, actually.

Meanwhile, Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday's column

This column was especially fun to write!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here's one of those posts in which I really don't have anything to say

. . . but nonetheless I have something I want to share because it makes me smile.

My dad's birthday is next week, so he's on my mind. Geoff and I were talking about him last night, and both of us agreed you gotta love a guy who always calls cities by their nicknames. Philly. Vegas. L.A. Frisco. Cincy.

Dude is an honorary member of the Rat Pack, apparently.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More TV Talk

So we're into the fall season a few weeks now, and I'm still trying on a few new shows to see if they fit. So far . . . I don't know. Watched THE NEW GIRL last night for the first time and think Zooey Deschanel is pretty cute, although she does make me hold my breath for fear that she'll morph into Meg Ryan right before my very eyes. I'm also a person who's interested in PERSON OF INTEREST (hahaha!) although I never really know what's going on due to knitting and eating and talking on the phone while watching.

I think the one I like the best so far is (guilty pleasure time!) REVENGE. Because you know what? It's fun watching rich, good-looking people suffer for their crime of being both richer and better looking than I am. Awesome!

Your thoughts on shows new and old?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Trade show musings

Good thing I don't write my own headlines, because who would want to read a piece called "Trade Show Musings"? But whatever.

I'm glad I went to the Denver show for all kinds of reasons, one of which is that I had a really nice time with Anne and Jenny from TKE. And Shannon Hale was beyond entertaining at the literacy banquet. Thanks for that, you guys!

Here's another reason I'm happy I went. I had a chance to readjust my perspective. See, writing is a really solitary experience. You're alone a lot. And when you're alone a lot you start thinking you're the center of the universe (a little) and therefore (you start thinking) it's just not FAIR that your manuscript WHICH IS YOUR BABY isn't getting published or that your book isn't getting all kinds of crazy attention.

However when you go to a booksellers' trade show, what you realize is that there are a LOT of books out there. Tables and tables and tables and miles and tables of them. Not only that, but they're all fall books. Most of them will have been sent back to the publisher by spring to be replaced by more tables and tables and tables and miles and tables.

Does this depress you? Curiously, it has the opposite effect on me. What it makes me realize is that a lot of us have the same dream, a lot of us are working hard, a lot of us are good at what we do. We're in it together. Not getting noticed all the time does not equate with sucking.

Don't you feel better now? Because I do.

Well, they just keep showing up

Columns that is!